A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about chicken sandwich

Free Day in Anjouan

Chilling in the hotel

During breakfast we have a chat with the two British guys and an American girl from the US Peace Corps, who have all been stranded on the island for the last couple of days as a result of the flights being grounded and the ferry not operating due to bad weather.

One of the men has an international flight connection tomorrow morning, and is getting a little concerned that he will miss it. If he has to make other arrangements and stay longer on the islands, he would be struggling, as he has very little cash left and, a very low credit limit on his credit card, and no easy way of getting hold of more cash. While I sympathise with his predicament, it does seem to be a rather irresponsible situation to leave yourself in, especially in a place like Comoros where spanners can – and will – be thrown in the works. He is very well travelled, trying to get to all the countries in Africa before he dies, so I find it all rather odd. I heard Patrice advice him yesterday that they should leave here at 06:00 this morning and go to the airport to sit there all day hoping for a ‘window of opportunity’. “Oh, I won’t be around that early, can you make it 07:30?” he asked Patrice. I find that even more odd – if I was worried about missing my international connection, sleeping in would be the last thing on my mind; I would want to be first in that queue at the airport.

Anyway, we see them all go off this morning, feeling hopeful for a seat on the small 9-seater plane that is flying a shuttle service between Anjouan and Moroni today.

When Patrice arrives, he collects our passports, and after he has taken the others to the airport, he will go and try to and get ferry tickets for us for tomorrow. He tells us he has spoken to the boat captain already this morning, who has assured him that there will be a sailing tomorrow. Inshallah.

Walk?

The area around the hotel is lacking in places of interest or even scenic beauty, with piles of rubble and heaps of trash lining the roads.

large_Mustamudu_Street_Scenes_2.jpg

large_Mustamudu_Street_Scenes_1.jpg

large_Mustamudu_Street_Scenes_3.jpg

large_Mustamudu_Street_Scenes_4.jpg

large_Mustamudu_Street_Scenes_5.jpg

It is too hot to have a longer walk further afield, so we decide to spend the day chilling in the hotel.

Al Amal Hotel

Not being very good at ‘chilling’, I wander around the hotel grounds to look for something to photograph. Anything. Maybe some good macro work? Or an interesting insect?

Nope. The hotel grounds are what you might call sparse. There is no outdoor furniture, no benches, nowhere to sit and enjoy the scenery. It’s pretty bare and rather bleak. I assume this was once a thriving terrace with a cafeteria, tables, chairs, and umbrellas; with stimulating conversation, subdued laughter, iced drinks and colourful cocktails… In the heyday of the hotel maybe? Did it ever have a heyday? I find it hard to imagine.

large_Al_Amal_Ho..race_Area_1.jpg

I walk around the other side of the building to find the few flowers that do dot the grounds.

large_Hibiscus_1.jpg

large_4AEECFEFC89CE24512D2040A6D4AEF6D.jpg

large_Hibiscus_2.jpg

large_4AFCBEF3D842F6C406EF9048290A4269.jpg

large_Frangipane_1.jpg

large_Hibiscus_3.jpg

And the scrawny looking local cat, eyeing me suspiciously.

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_-_Cat.jpg

I do find a sparrow and a carpenter bee as well.

large_4AD58B8EDB1DE2D63298B93D4F1B5B3A.jpg

large_Carpenter_Bee_1.jpg

Even lizards are in short supply.

large_4B18F176BCD15A767E46FABA495784FD.jpg

To say the hotel is run down is an understatement. It has certainly seen better days and could do with a spot of refurbishment and lots of TLC, but these days Comoros is such a poverty stricken country with tourism being almost non-existent, so I doubt if they are able to spare money for doing the hotel up.

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_2.jpg

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_-_Our_Room.jpg

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_-_Entrance.jpg
The entrance to the hotel from the car park

large_Al_Amal_Ho..tion_Area_1.jpg
The reception area to the left and the restaurant straight on.

large_Al_Amal_Ho..estaurant_2.jpg
The restaurant

large_Al_Amal_Ho.._Restaurant.jpg
The outside dining area

large_Al_Amal_Ho..to_the_room.jpg
The corridor leading to the rooms

large_Al_Amal_Ho.._the_Landin.jpg
The fusebox on the landing

Swimming Pool

There is a fairly large swimming pool, and a small paddling pool, but no water. I am guessing it is not financially feasible to maintain a full pool with just a handful of tourists (just four at the moment).

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_3.jpg

large_Al_Amal_Ho..ing_Pools_1.jpg

large_Al_Amal_Ho..ming_Pool_5.jpg

David decides to do a dry run anyway.

large_Al_Amal_Ho..ming_Pool_6.jpg

Beach

With no water in the pool, maybe we should try the beach. There is a gate in one corner of the grounds, but it is locked. Which means going up the steep hill to the main road, through the sports stadium and down a series of steep steps to get to the beach. In your swimwear. No thank you.

large_Al_Amal_Ho..The_Beach_1.jpg

Fishing

We watch the fishermen for a while, working in teams of four, with one man in the boat, throwing out the nets, with the other three in the water, splashing around to frighten the fish into the net.

large_Fishing_Boat_1.jpg

large_Fishing_Boat_2.jpg

large_Fishing_Boat_3.jpg

Chilling on the balcony

Having exhausted the ‘leisure facilities’ in the hotel, we go to chill in the room. The bedroom is the only place with A/C (or at least some of them have), but there is no wifi, or chairs; the restaurant has wifi, but no A/C or comfortable chairs; the reception has comfy seating but no wifi or A/C. We grab a couple of chairs from the restaurant and sit on the balcony for a while in the shade.

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_-_Balcony_1.jpg

We brought some bubbles with us to play with the local kids, but haven’t seen any children around, so David has to play with himself.

large_Bubble_3.jpg

Sporting my 400mm lens, I do manage to capture a couple of birds from the balcony.

large_Common_Myna_Birds_1.jpg
Common Myna Birds

large_Pied_Crow_4.jpg
Pied Crow

Tripadvisor

You know you are in a fairly obscure place, when even Tripadvisor is confused about where Anjouan is, showing a photo from Ait Benhaddou in Morocco on their site for the island.

large_Trip_Advisor_1.jpg

This hotel, despite being the 'best on the island', is not even listen on Trip Advisor. Yet. I have tried to add it and written a review so hopefully it should show soon. .

Even David’s mobile phone seems to have doubts about this place.

large_Al_Amal_is_Dangerous.jpg

Lunch

The restaurant is calling, as much for the wifi as for the food: with little to choose from, we have another chicken sandwich. Considering there is only the two of us in the restaurant, I am somewhat surprised that the sandwiches take 45 minutes to arrive. Not that we are in a hurry, quite the opposite.

large_Lunch_-_Chicken_sandwich.jpg

Patrice arrives with our passports and tickets for the ferry tomorrow. This looks promising. He tells us the others are still waiting at the airport, with a glimmer of hope for a seat on the plane this afternoon.

large_Ferry_Ticket_11.jpg

The rest of afternoon is spent just chilling, a little siesta, a short walk, some internet time, a drink (non-alcoholic) in the bar… The usual stuff.

Dinner

This evening they have vanilla, but no lobster, so I have to make do with chicken in vanilla sauce. It is absolutely delicious. David has another pizza.

large_Chicken_in_Vanilla_Sauce.jpg

Later Patrice joins us for a drink and confirms that the one British guy who has an international flight tomorrow morning did get away today, but not until 18:00 this evening. Once the pilot had finished his scheduled flights for the day, he took some of those passengers who were most desperate to go to Moroni in his nine-seater plane, charging them €160 per person. That still has to be worth it to save all the hassle associated with missing your international flight.

As it is still too early to go to bed, I attempt some astrophotography in the grounds of the hotel. There is too much light pollution to be successful, but I have a go anyway. At least we can see the Milky Way quite clearly.

large_Stars_over_Anjouan_1.jpg

As soon as we get back to the room, we both complain of feeling nauseous. Some ten minutes later, David starts vomiting violently, followed almost immediately by me. Oh dear.

I go to bed, hoping that having got rid of the content that was bothering my stomach, it will settle it down now. No such luck. I still feel terribly nauseous. Half an hour later I also have diarrhoea. Followed almost immediately by David. It is one of those cases where you don’t know whether to sit on the toilet or kneel in front of it. Thankfully, our urgent bathroom visits do not clash at any time, but they do go on throughout the night. 27 times to be exact, and yes, I am counting.

By around 2 am there is no more water in the tank to flush the toilet, so we start using the reserve from the buckets. By 4am this has run out too. So has our drinking water. If we weren’t already feeling nauseous, we certainly want to be sick as soon as we enter the pungent bathroom. We both feel like wet rags that have been wrung out and turned inside out. We try to get some sleep, but really only doze. Vomiting doesn’t bring any respite or relief from the dreadful nausea, it is constant and overwhelming.

large_AC67189AA268ED21F3A99370A46043B9.jpg
The buckets in the bathroom. You will be grateful to know that there is no photographic evidence of tonight's experiences.

Food poisoning is all we need for tomorrow’s ferry crossing back to Moroni. Right now I just want to be able to say “Beam us up Scotty” and be transported to home. I eventually drift off into a restless slumber.

This adventure was arranged by Undiscovered Destinations, specialists in trips to unusual places.

large_9563CD32B998F14C9D6ACCE163E2164C.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:17 Archived in Comoros Tagged water fishing beach hotel flight cat crow ta lizard chilling swimming_pool run_down frangipani decay passports runs bubbles astro sickness stomach tummy trip_advisor comoros nausea milky_way food_poisoning moroni anjouan al_amal_hotel mutsamudu chicken_sandwich hibiscus vanilla_sauce astrophotography diarrhoea Comments (2)

Anjouan: Mutsamudu City Tour

Historic citadelle and colourful markets

large_Mutsamusu_City_Tour.jpg

I wake up this morning bathed in sweat, despite the A/C being on, so I go to check and find that it is blasting out hot air. Outside, on the balcony, I discover the reason why: the whole system is iced up! That is totally absurd: seeing all that ice, exposed to the heat outside!

large_AC_unit_iced_over.jpg

Breakfast

The last couple of mornings we have had a most delicious juice for breakfast, and this morning they are serving slices of the fruit too. I ask the waiter what it is, but he only knows the French word for it: karasol. I am none the wiser. He kindly brings out the whole fruit for me to see; and I recognise it as something we were first introduced to in Haiti last year: soursop. It makes a very refreshing juice and apparently it also has medicinal benefits, being hailed as an alternative cancer treatment.

large_A7B591E3B5F711909E30B5A488B63CDC.jpg

large_Soursop_1.jpg

large_Soursop_2.jpg

large_Soursop_3.jpg

Mutsamudu City Tour

Patrice arrives in his little car to whisk us off on a tour to show us the delights of the capital of Anjouan Island - Mutsamudu. With our hotel being on the outskirts of the city, we don't have far to go.

Citadelle

Our first stop of the day is the Citadelle, perched high on a hill with great views overlooking the town and port.

large_Mutsamudu_Citadelle_4.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Cotadelle_1.jpg

large_Mutsamusu_2.jpg

The port here on Anjouan is the only deep-water harbour in Comoros, and large ships will deliver the containers here, with lightering used for transporting goods to the main island as well as Mohéli.

large_Mutsamudu__6_.jpg

large_Mutsamusu_3.jpg

large_Mutsamudu__5_.jpg

The Citadelle was built in the 18th century to protect the city from Malagasy pirates who plied these waters looking not just to ransack the place, but also for people to abduct and sell as slaves. .

large_Mutsamudu_Citadelle_8.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Citadelle_5.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Citadelle_6.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Citadelle_7.jpg

There are both French and English cannons within the fortifications.

large_Mutsamudu_..e_-_Canon_2.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_..e_-_Canon_1.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Cotadelle_2.jpg

There is a slight drizzle when we arrive, but it’s not heavy enough to be a problem, and it does create a very nice rainbow.

large_C85ADA4F0984651D9B6C6ED849328606.jpg

large_C86091B191B0AF47180D597FB286B9A3.jpg

large_C8668BBEFDD71B99E1069860848212E7.jpg

The drizzle turns into a refreshing rain shower, removing some of the oppressive heat and humidity that hangs over the city today. Strangely enough, looking straight up there is a bright blue sky, yet it is still raining slightly. Hence the rainbow I guess.

large_Blue_Sky.jpg

Mutsamudu Market

From the Citadelle, we descend the numerous and crowded steps down to sea level, through the bustling market. For someone like me who loves to see and learn about the produce of the areas I visit, and capture images of local scenes and people, this walk is a real treat.

large_Mutsamudu_Market_2.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Market_5.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Market_4.jpg

The locals, however, are generally not very keen on being photographed; although some, when asked, will oblige. Therefore many of the pictures here are captured covertly, often ‘shooting from the hip’.

large_Mutsamudu_Market_7.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Market_6.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_.._Chillies_1.jpg
Chillies

large_Pigeon_Peas_11.jpg
Pigeon Peas

large_Mutsamudu_..a_Leaves__1.jpg
Mataba (cassava leaves)

large_Mutsamudu_Market_-_Fish_1.jpg
Dried fish

I also want to mention that most of the market is extremely dark, at times necessitating ISO speeds of up to 32,000, hence why some of the images are quite grainy. Also, Travellerspoint, like so many other websites, seem to add extra grain / noise to photos.

large_Mutsamudu_Market_10.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Market_11.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_..ubergines_1.jpg
Aubergines and green bananas

Mafane
The leaves of this plant (Acmella oleracea) are widely consumed in salads where they add a peppery flavour, or as a leafy green vegetable with meat dishes. Like so many other plants, it is also said to have various medicinal properties.

large_Mutsamudu_.._-_Mafane_1.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_Market_8.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_.._-_Ginger_1.jpg
Ginger root

large_Mutsamudu_Market_9.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_..-_Peanuts_1.jpg
Peanuts in their shells, AKA 'monkey nuts'

large_Mutsamudu_.._Tamarind_1.jpg
Tamarind

large_Mutsamudu_.._Turmeric_1.jpg
Turmeric root

large_Mutsamudu_Market_12.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_.._Chillies_2.jpg
Green chillies

large_Mutsamudu_..lli_Sauce_1.jpg
Chilli sauce

large_Mutsamudu_Market_13.jpg

large_Mutsamudu_..nd_Garlic_1.jpg
Onions and garlic

large_Mutsamudu_.._Chillies_3.jpg
Extra hot red chillies

Baobab Fruit

I know that I have sung the praises of this enormous fruit on more than one occasion in the past, but as it is now being hailed as the new ‘superfruit’, I guess once more won’t hurt.

large_Mutsamudu_..bab_Fruit_1.jpg

The fruit tastes a little like sherbet, and can be mixed with milk or water to make a drink. Baobab fruit has three times as much vitamin C as an orange, twice as much calcium as milk and is high in potassium, thiamine and vitamin B6. The powdery white interior can be used to thicken jams and stuff, and the pulp can be dried and is used in the fermentation of beer. Baobab fruit is also the basis for cream of tartar, and is used in cosmetics, smoothies, or as a sugar substitute. In the UK apparently one manufacturer is adding it to gin! Oil is extracted by cold-pressing the seeds, or they can be ground and used as thickening for soups, fermented seeds can be added as flavouring, or the seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack. Decorative crafts are made from the dried fruits.

Msindzano

Many years ago I saw a picture in the Undiscovered Destinations brochure of a woman whose face was made up with the traditional msindzano – sandalwood paste spread on the skin. I was captivated and intrigued by the picture, the practice and the country, and this single photo is what initially inspired me to come here to this little known nation.

large_39D7C385F6866B7CB29A8223DCE24994.jpg
The photo that started it all.

The use of this paste is considered a beauty routine as well as protecting the delicate facial skin from the ravages of the sun. To create the paste, the rock hard blocks of wood are scraped to extract a powder, which is then mixed it with water, lemon juice, rosewater or milk. Sometimes turmeric is added too.

large_Msindzano_4.jpg

It has antiseptic, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties and is said to offer relief from sweat and prickly heat as well as protection from harmful sunrays.

large_Msindzano_3.jpg

The aroma offers stress relief and can help soothe headaches, is said to have anti-ageing qualities and can help against acne and pimples, leaving you with a fresh, glowing skin.

large_Mutsamudu_Market_1.jpg

large_Msindzano_1.jpg

large_Msindzano_2__ISO_25_600_.jpg

large_Msindzano_5.jpg

From the downtown area of Mutsamudu, we drive to the hills to take a look at the embassies, hospital, stadium and the President’s residence, all in a drive-by tour. I have to say that this area doesn't offer much in terms of photographic opportunities.

Lunch

Then it is back to the hotel and a spot of lunch.

large_Chicken_Sandwich_1.jpg
Chicken sandwich with frites.

The two British guys also staying in the hotel are going down to the ferry port this afternoon, hoping for a ride back to Moroni. They were hoping to go yesterday, but the ferry was cancelled. We wave them goodbye with the words: “we hope we don’t see you again”. Having said that, I fully expect to see one of the chaps again, as he lives a mere six miles away from us and we have actually met him once before at a wildlife group I sometimes do talks for. It’s a small world!

There is still no beer this lunchtime, so David asks if they can stock up before dinner. I am not holding my breath, however.

This afternoon we chill in the room with a little siesta. The A/C has ‘re-set’ itself now after this morning’s problem, and is blowing out some delightfully cool air.

Dinner

I was wrong. The hotel has received a fresh supply of beer! Maybe David’s desperate pleading this lunchtime worked?

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_-_Beer_2.jpg

Comoros is famous for using vanilla in savoury cooking, lobster being a favourite. I ask about it. “No lobster”. So I suggest: “chicken in vanilla sauce…?” “No vanilla sauce”. I settle for a chicken curry with extra hot chilli sauce on the side.

large_3A9D8769B8403218FBA43447D37EDB7D.jpg

David orders Boeuf Massalé, another local speciality. Massalé, a local variation on the Indian garam masala, is a spice blend usually consisting of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, dried chillies and nutmeg. Very much like a curry in other words.

large_Boeuf_Massali.jpg

Just as we are finishing off our food, the two English guys arrive back. No ferry today either: the sea is still too rough.

Back in the room, we find there is no water in the taps or the toilet. Reception tells us “All rooms same. Maybe tomorrow” Great. I guess that is why the bathroom has a large container and a bucket filled with water. This is presumably a common occurrence.

large_Al_Amal_Hotel_-_Bathroom.jpg

We sit on the bed and read. Unlike our first (and second) room, this one has no chairs in the room, nor on the balcony. After a while there is a knock on the door: the water is back on! Yay! All is well and we can sleep soundly.

Thanks go to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this trip.

large_3ABC9C4EF52FBE551687132135594137.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 01:32 Archived in Comoros Tagged people view market fruit rainbow capital photography baobab chillies curry dried_fish ac comoros citadelle city_tour soursop pigeon_peas mutsamudu birds_eye_view ainr_conditioner karasol chicken_sandwich msindzano sandalwood_paste baobab_fruit mafane vegetable_market Comments (3)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]